Friday, November 24, 2017

Bloomberg Philanthropies 'closing health data gaps' in Bangladesh, 18 more countries

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-04-13 00:41:06 BdST


The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ ‘Data for Health’ initiative is closing the gaps in health data in 19 countries including Bangladesh, the charity says.

‘Data for Health’ is a four-year $100 million initiative, launched two years back, aimed at improving health data in 19 low- and middle-income countries, reaching more than one billion people and spanning Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

The programme is working to improve access to and the infrastructure for public health data so that governments, aid organisations, and public health leaders are equipped with the tools and systems to collect and use data to prioritise health challenges, develop policies, deploy resources, and measure success.

The charity in a statement on Wednesday said the investments have resulted in improved quality of birth and death registration by modernising national reporting systems, training medical professionals to more accurately record the cause of death and requiring better and more reporting.

For example, six countries – Bangladesh, Ghana, Malawi, Morocco, Rwanda and Solomon Islands – have revised their death certification to the international standard established by the WHO.

Four countries – Brazil, Myanmar, Rwanda and Sri Lanka – have begun collecting critical information on deaths that occur outside of hospitals and, as a result, data on more than 1,500 of these deaths have been collected.

More than 3,900 individuals from 16 countries – more than 40 percent of them women – have been trained in innovative methods to improve birth and death data.

A protocol for conducting the first-ever nationally representative standardised mobile phone survey is nearly complete.

And four countries are planning to implement the new technology platform that measures risk factors for noncommunicable diseases using mobile phones.

“Most people don’t realise how big a problem the lack of health data is – or that nearly two-thirds of the world’s deaths go unrecorded, which is incredible,” said the founder Michael R. Bloomberg.

Last week, he hosted more than 100 public health practitioners in New York, including high-level government officials from Myanmar, India, Rwanda and Ghana to discuss progress on ‘Data for Health’ last week.

“This is a fixable problem, and Data for Health is showing how we can do it. The fact is, there are so many problems we could solve with the right information. That’s why data drives all our work at Bloomberg Philanthropies,” he said at that event.

The WHO estimates that 65 percent of all deaths worldwide – 35 million each year – go unrecorded. And millions of deaths lack a documented cause. Many records do not provide medically accurate or specific information.

Without this information, government officials, public health leaders and funders cannot make informed decisions on priorities including how and where to direct public health resources.

Knowing how many people are born and die each year – and what is causing those deaths – is critical to well-functioning health systems and to addressing need and gender equity gaps, the Bloomberg Philanthropies said.

The 19 countries in the Data for Health programme are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, China, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Morocco, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Soloman Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zambia.